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I came home the other day to find that in addition to all the decorations already adorning the house, Humphry has been garlanded. I think he looks good with a topping of Ivy, Pine cones, Lichen covered twigs all wrapped around birch branches.

Humphry at Christmas - note the "Advent calender" where treats can be stashed.

Humphry at Christmas – note the “Advent calender” where treats can be stashed.

It definitely feels like the season is in full flow, and the Christmas telly season has started. For many people Christmas isn’t complete without sitting down with the family to watch Mary Poppins. In this house, our must see film at Christmas is the French film Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain). This is probably my favourite movie of all time. It has everything you want: its funny, quirky, heatwarming, has a lovely feelgood factor, beautiful visuals, great acting, Audrey Tautou is very easy on the eye, and it has fantastic score by Yann Tiersen. A couple of years ago I learnt the piece ‘Comptine d’un autre été l’après midi‘ and wrote about it here.

You can listen to it here: (not me playing)

It can sound a bit pretentious in the UK to say that your favourite movie is a French film. But I’ve always loved them, I just think that the plots are always a lot stronger than Hollywood style blockbusters.

The first French film I saw was when a was a teenager. I used to babysit for a couple of kids when their mother went out for the night. She had a collection of videos that she was happy for me to watch, including a particularly racy French film; the name of which I didn’t pay too much attention to, but quite a few of the scenes certainly got the notice of my impressionable mind.

Early on in our marriage I was working late one night stuck on a call. My wife came down at 02:00 to make a cup of tea, as she was struggling to sleep with me chatting below. She stuck the telly on and found that Jean de Florette (her favourite French film) was just starting. That’s the great thing about foreign language films; the subtitles allow you to sit on a conference call and still be able to follow the dialog. The call finished at 03:00, but we stayed down to watch the rest of it. I had never seen it before, and if you haven’t, you really should. It is an epic story of adversity that has beautiful cinematography. Whenever I hear Verdi’s La Forza Del Destino I think of this film, and not the Stella Artois adverts that popularized it in the UK. Its sequel Manon des Sources starring Emmanuelle Béart finishes the story off, ensuring that justice is finally done.

A recent addition to our French film collection is Heartbreaker (L’arnacœur). This is another very funny film with the hunky Romain Duris taking the lead alongside Vanessa Paradis. It follows the exploits of a trio of professional relationship wreckers, (don’t worry, they will only ruin relationships where one of them is not in love). And just last week we watched Romantics Anonymous (Les émotifs anonymes) a sweet little film from a few years ago that could, in other hands, been ruined.

Whilst my wife and I agree on the above, where we disagree is on The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de pages) I love this story of revenge; where a girl who’s ambitions to join a conservatoire are thwarted by a famous pianist, later on in life she has the opportunity to get her own back. My wife was not a fan at all. I’ve yet to see a bad French film, but my wife says that’s because I wasn’t forced to see all the ones that she had to when she studied French at college. One that sticks in her mind as dark and miserable is the film: Camille Claudel. I secretly believe I’d like this one too.

I’d love to hear of any French film recommendations you have….